Attention “Hamilton” fans: in 2018, show creator Lin-Manuel Miranda will be releasing more material associated with the smash-hit musical. Once a month Miranda will share new content, adding to the musical’s expansive existing repertoire.
When “Hamilton” premiered on Broadway in 2015, it quickly became a pop culture sensation. It is hard to find any work of art that has received universal acclaim: it received uniformly rapturous critical reviews, was wildly successful at the box office and was widely discussed in media and politics.
The musical quickly earned a large, dedicated fan base, many of whom had never seen the musical in person. In a move likely designed to satisfy these many fans, Miranda released “The Hamilton Mixtape” in December 2016. The star-studded album featured covers of many of the musical’s most popular songs, remixes of existing material, and never-before-heard music that had been cut from the final musical.
The mixtape was well received, and Miranda announced that he would release a follow-up. He found it difficult to embrace the new project. While announcing “Hamildrops”, he said, “I know I promised you a Hamilton Mixtape Vol. 2, but nothing’s gonna match those songs in that order, beautifully sequenced by @J.period, at that moment in December 2016.” Instead, he decided to use “Hamildrops” to release new work throughout the year.
“Hamildrops’” first release was “Ben Franklin’s Song” this past December, which was adapted from an early idea Miranda had while first writing the musical. Miranda had originally planned on including Ben Franklin as a character in “Hamilton”, but he ultimately decided that he did not fit within the show. However, he still had some lyrics leftover from the show’s developmental stages.
Miranda said that Franklin’s original lyrics were heavily inspired by indie rock band The Decemberists. The Decemberists are cult favorites know for idiosyncratic lyrics with dense references to history, literature and folklore. Miranda felt that their singular style would fit Ben Franklin, and he sent the unfinished lyrics to lead singer, Colin Meloy. Meloy then set it to music, sparking a back-and-forth collaboration between Miranda and the band.
Musically, the track’s alternative rock influences are distinct from any of the songs in “Hamilton,” though the musical is famous for genre-jumping. The song imagines Franklin as a cocky genius with an overactive mind (fans of the musical will recognize him as more Hamilton than Burr.) Like other “Hamilton” songs, the lyrics are clever on the first listen and only get better with deeper exploration. The song recounts Franklin’s many achievements, includes subtle references to other “Hamilton” tracks and even evokes the hilarious image of a 78-year-old founding father gleefully dropping the F-bomb.
“Ben Franklin’s Song” is the first release from “Hamildrops” with more content added soon. It is not immediately clear what will be released in the future. In his announcement, Miranda only described the releases as “content”, which could possibly include original songs, covers of existing songs, or even non-musical media related to “Hamilton.” Whatever surprises come from “Hamildrops,” it is sure to be met with a passionate response from the musical’s rabid fan base, who will always be ready to devour new material associated with one of the most popular musicals of all-time.